Category Archives: Meet the team

Meet the team: Philippa Tree

Philippa Tree is the Regional Support Officer (RSO) for the London and South Central region and is responsible for training and supporting all the volunteer Dementia Friends Champions in the region. We chatted with Philippa to find out what keeps her busy and her highlights since joining the team.

What’s a typical day at work like for you?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a typical day. I could be travelling across England delivering Dementia Friends Champion induction days, or attending Alzheimer’s Society meetings and working with colleagues to develop the programme, or I could have a full day in the office (always welcome, especially after a few days travelling!) catching up with emails and supporting our volunteer Champions in whatever way I can.

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Meet Sara Miles, Relationship Development Manager – Dementia Friends

am the Relationship Development Manager at Dementia Friends which means that my role is to support businesses and large employers to roll out Dementia Friends across their organisation. Myself and my colleague Ravina will also proactively contact organisations to talk to them about what a great initiative Dementia Friends is and how they can be involved.

So how do we decide who to contact?
Well we want everyone to be involved so our net is spread pretty wide. However, there are only 2 of us so we have had to reign ourselves in a little! We have looked across different sectors such as travel, retail, banking and health to help us have some focus.

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Meet Daisy – Regional Support Officer for the North East

Daisy - Regional Support Officer for Dementia Friends

Daisy Robson is the Regional Support Officer (RSO) for the North East of England. Daisy is responsible for training and supporting all the volunteer Dementia Friends Champions in the region. We caught up with her to find out about her role and why she got involved with Dementia Friends,

What’s a typical day at work like for you?

There’s no such thing as a typical day for a Regional Support Officer! Some days I get up early (usually with a big yawn…), go to the train station (equipped with a strong coffee and a suitcase full of Dementia Friends goodies) and head off to somewhere in the North East of England delivering Dementia Friends Champions training to our wonderful volunteers.
     Other days I’m office-based, which involves answering queries and promoting opportunities to Champs, such as the new young people resources we created which will help Champions to reach a younger generation with the Dementia Friends message. I also work with colleagues at the Alzheimer’s Society to develop the programme locally and – can you tell I’m a caffeine fan yet? – drinking lots of tea!

How did you come to be involved with Dementia Friends?

I volunteered as a Dementia Friends Champion in Leeds before I was an RSO. I helped to set up our local dementia-friendly community initiative and as part of that I got involved with Dementia Friends. I love getting our local shops and residents participating in Dementia Friends because you reach such a diverse and interesting group of people. The one thing we all have in common is a desire to help those living with dementia. I think it’s pretty special that Dementia Friends brings everyone together.

Can you tell us a little more about Dementia Friendly Communities?

Dementia Friendly Communities is a programme focussed on making communities supportive, inclusive and safe places for those living with dementia. It’s all about improving the quality of life of those living with dementia and Dementia Friends, of course, plays a really important part in that. You can find out loads more information on the programme and how to get involved by going to the Dementia Friendly Communities website.

Are there any Champions training sessions that you have delivered which stand out as being particularly memorable?

I ran a Champions training in York which was attended by an actress. The way she delivered the Bookcase analogy was amazing – I couldn’t believe the way she painted, by just using her voice and gestures, the image of the bookcase and communicated the impact dementia has on memory. It really stood out to me as I realised how powerful the Bookcase analogy is and how much I learn from my Champions!

How important is Dementia Friends for those living with Dementia?

Very!!! We have already made so much progress and there is huge momentum behind the movement. The best thing about Dementia Friends is that all it takes is for every person to do something, even something little, because actually those small changes in attitude or understanding have such a big impact on the lives of those affected by dementia.

To find out more information on becoming a Dementia Friend Champion and to get involved, head to the Dementia Friends website.

Meet Chella – New Regional Volunteer Support Officer for Wales

Hello, my name is Chella and I am the new Regional Volunteer Support Officer (RVSO) for Dementia Friends Wales. I am based in Cardiff in South Wales, but cover the whole of Wales.

I started in the role on 3rd March 2014 and attended Champions training last week in Southampton, run by RVSO Sara Miles. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and found the Information Session inspiring. I have actually already held my first Information Session as a champion as I couldn’t wait to get started turning my new understanding into action! This role as a volunteer Champion is definitely something I will continue with, as watching people being captivated, particularly during the bookcase analogy, and understanding the initiative felt fantastic.

I was nervous attending the Champions training and just as nervous as everyone else when it came to presenting my part of the information session, but without this chance to practice and seeing everyone else doing it, I don’t think I would have felt ready to hold my own session for a long time!

My previous job roles have been within the Third Sector, providing legal advice and advocacy to vulnerable people, providing training to outside agencies and managing volunteers within the advice sector. I was also a volunteer at a charity for women and children experiencing domestic violence for five years.

My interest in the role of Regional Volunteer Support Officer sparked after witnessing the difficulties people living with dementia can face when doing something such as attending a hospital appointment.

When I was in a hospital recently an older couple were in the outpatient’s waiting room about to leave, when the lady said to the gentleman, “Now, do you need the toilet before we go?” to which he replied “no”.

The lady continued “remember we will be in the car for over an hour when we leave so if you need to go you had better go now”.

The gentleman agreed and the lady ushered him right to the toilet door. I have to admit, that even with my background and knowledge, I watched on thinking she was a bit bossy.

About 5 minutes had passed and the lady was still stood next to the entrance to the toilets, now looking a little concerned. A few more minutes passed and the lady looked increasingly concerned. Eventually she approached the man sat next to me and asked him if he would check the toilets as her husband who has dementia had gone in some time ago and she was worried he was unable to find his way out. The man agreed, although looked a little startled.

When he came back out he said that her husband was in a cubicle. The lady then entered the toilets to assist her husband at which point the security guard approached her to ask her to leave the men’s toilets. She was able to explain the situation and finally help her husband who had indeed gotten confused and could not find his way out.

For me this highlighted the need for a more dementia friendly community, as had we all attended one of the Dementia Friends information sessions before hand, I’m sure the lady and the gentleman would have had the help and support they needed to make a necessary trip to the hospital less stressful.

I am excited about being part of such a fantastic social action movement and creating many dementia friends in Wales. I am currently looking at locations and venues around Wales to run Champions Training Sessions, so if you know anyone in Wales that is interested in becoming a Champion, please ask them to register as a Champion on our website and to keep a look out on the site for training in their area.

For those existing champions in Wales, please feel free to contact me at

I have also started a Twitter feed @DFWalesRSO so please follow me if you are on Twitter.

I am looking forward to working with you all to make England and Wales more Dementia Friendly!

Chella Borde

Regional Volunteer Support Officer – Dementia Friends Wales


Meet Nathan Jelf-Mannion – Dementia Friends Digital and Marketing Manager

Image of Nathan Jelf-MannionMy name is Nathan Jelf-Mannion and I am the new Digital and Marketing Manager for Dementia Friends.

I am very excited to be part of such an important initiative to really change the way people think, talk and act about dementia in England. With over 4850 Dementia Friends already, we know we can bring about a step change within communities, improving the lives significantly of people affected by dementia

It was great to start working at Dementia Friends before Dementia Awareness Week and follow the activity Dementia Friends and Dementia Friends Champions were doing across England before, during and after the week. I’ve connected with our Dementia Friends and Dementia Friends Champions via social media and seen how they network and communicate with one another.

Lots of you are really engaging with us and each other on social media: we now have 5361 likes on Facebook and 3187 followers on Twitter.  Please do follow us on Twitter or like our Facebook page as they really help us all share tips and build the Dementia Friends network.

I recently became a Dementia Friends Champion. It was inspiring to meet other newly trained Dementia Friends Champions and talk to them about their motivations and experiences in taking on the role. Everyone’s keen to see how they can build local networks with other Champions, and I’ll be working on straightforward guidance for using social media to support this.

Another area of my work involves the development of the Dementia Friends website. As some of you who have been following Dementia Friends for a while will know, we launched the site quickly, to make sure that people could register with the initiative and sign up as a Friend or Champion.

We’ve just completed the first set of improvements following the launch.  They have been based on your feedback and usability testing, and aim to make the website easier to use. The most recent changes include: better accessibility; improved navigation and functionality of dashboards for Dementia Friends and Dementia Friends Champions; and improved FAQs area.

We have also made a change to allow people who are a Dementia Friend or who have set up a Dementia Friends account to convert it to a Dementia Friends Champion’s account by using the dashboard in their log in area, if they have decided that they would like to take on the Champions’ role and help spread the message more widely in their communities. Find out more about these changes.

Finally we are always looking for good stories from Dementia Friends and Dementia Friends Champions so why not get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or email us.

Nathan Jelf-Mannion, Dementia Friends – Digital and Marketing Manager

Meet Stacy Hoare – Regional Support Officer for the North

Stacy Hoare

Stacy Hoare

What does your role involve?

I am responsible for delivering Dementia Friends Champions sessions and support across the north of England – so I’m doing a lot of travelling.

What has been your experience of being trained as a Dementia Friends Champion and then running the sessions yourself?

The exercises in the Dementia Friends Champions’ session give you a real insight into what living with dementia can be like and that’s the feedback from the sessions I have run too. It’s also great to see people come together because they feel passionately about creating dementia friendly communities and the inspiration they get from sharing plans with other people who also want to create social change.

How are you going about connecting people to local dementia services?

I’m week four into the job but I’m busy contacting Alzheimer’s Society and other local dementia support organisations. It’s really important that Dementia Friends Champions and Dementia Friends can get in touch with information and support services close to where they live, so this will be an on-going aspect of my role.

What’s been your most inspirational experience so far?

Going to an NHS Expo in mid-March was the first time that I saw Dementia Friends information sessions being run. There were people there from student nurses to really experienced GPs and commercial partners.  It was amazing to see the enthusiasm for Dementia Friends across the board, as people saw the actions they could take. I have now trained several of them as Dementia Friends Champions and some have gone on to set up their first Dementia Friends information sessions – all within a matter of weeks. It’s that level of enthusiasm that means we will reach one million Dementia Friends.

How confident are you that Dementia Friends is creating more dementia friendly communities?

Dementia Friends is working because people have a passion to learn more about what it is like to live with dementia and share it with colleagues, friends and neighbours. In the short time I’ve been in post I’ve witnessed that first-hand. Dementia Friends is spreading the word even among people who haven’t had a reason to think about dementia, giving people real insights, getting rid of the stigma – in essence making knowing about dementia a part of everyday life.